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The Cornish name piskie was metathesized in Somerset and Devon to pixie and pigsie. Cornish and west of England fairy who haunts hills, rivers, and groves, misleading lonely travellers, thus giving us the English word ‘pixilated’. The older, more genuinely Cornish conception envisages a wizened old man, sometimes in a green suit, who both threshes grain and rides a horse. Elsewhere, the figure may be either sturdy and earthy (in Somerset) or slight, white, and naked (in Devon). Piskies were introduced to English literary tradition by the letters of Ann Elizabeth Bray to Robert Southey, later published as Traditions … on the Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy (1838). See Enys Tregarthen, The Piskey-Purse (London, 1905); repr. in PiskeyFolk (New York, 1940); repr. in Pixie Folklore and Legends (Avenal, NJ, 1995). Folk motif: F200.1. See also FÓIDÍN MEARAÍ.

Subjects: Religion.

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